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Amtrak Derailment: Train was Traveling at 80-mph in 30-mph Zone Before Crash

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Cars from an Amtrak train lay spilled onto Interstate 5 below as some train cars remain on the tracks above on Monday in DuPont, Wash.  Elaine Thompson/AP

The train that careened off a bridge outside Tacoma, Washington, killing three people was traveling at 80 mph on a 30-mph stretch of track, federal investigators confirmed late Monday.

During a late-night briefing with reporters, NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr added that Train 501 of Amtrak’s Cascades service from Seattle headed south to Portland, Oregon, was carrying 80 passengers, three crew and two service personnel.

She said it was “too early to tell” why the train was travelling at 80 mph.

“We were glad that we were able to get the data from the event data recorder from the rear locomotive,” she said at the briefing. “The front locomotive as you can imagine is a bit more difficult to access.”

At a news conference late Monday Pacific Time, NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said the speed of the train at the time of the accident had been determined by downloading the Event Data Recorder from the train’s rear locomotive.

The National Transportation Safety Board says an Amtrak passenger train that derailed from an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., leaving at least three people dead, was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Train 501 of Amtrak’s Cascades service from Seattle to Portland was on its maiden run of a faster-speed service when it careened off the track at a curve at DuPont on Monday. Thirteen of the train’s 14 cars came off the tracks. In addition to the three people killed in the accident, dozens of people — train passengers, crew and those in vehicles on the ground — were injured, Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Hall said. Ten of those hurt were in serious condition, four had moderate injuries and another nine suffered minor injuries, he said.

Asked whether the NTSB had any theories as to why the train was traveling so fast in the 30 mph track zone, Dinh-Zarr told reporters, “It’s too early to tell.”

She said one of the questions that investigators hoped to answer in interviews with the crew was whether the engineer was aware of the speed limit in the corridor where the accident occurred.

Dinh-Zarr said the NTSB was checking to see whether the positive train control, or PTC, was installed on the stretch of track in question. PTC is a system designed to automatically stop a train in certain dangerous situations.

According to reports, it was the first time the train had plied a new, more direct and faster route on tracks known as the Point Defiance Bypass, which are owned by the Sound Transit agency.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says the Federal Railroad Administration funded and reviewed recent upgrades to the tracks.”

The new route eliminates the speed-sapping corners and tunnels on the more scenic route that ran along Puget Sound.

In total, the project’s budget was nearly $181 million and has been in the works for about a decade, according to Will James of member station KNKX in Tacoma.

The Washington State Department of Transportation had billed the service “as a more frequent, more reliable, and faster Amtrak Cascades service.”

But some local officials were skeptical of the new service, questioning whether the trains would be safe at higher speeds. Earlier this month, the mayor of Lakewood, a suburb of Tacoma, predicted a deadly accident.

Mayor Don Anderson said the addition of grade separations, such as overpasses, to keep trains, cars and pedestrians separated, was needed.

“Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,” Anderson was quoted by KOMO News.

Last month, the NTSB issued a report saying Amtrak had a “deficient” safety culture.

“Amtrak’s safety culture is failing and is primed to fail again, until and unless Amtrak changes the way it practices safety management,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a statement on Nov. 14.

On May 12, 2015, an Amtrak Northwest Regional train derailed In Philadelphia, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 200 passengers. A year later, NTSB concluded that a distracted engineer was to blame.

 

 

#LeNoraMillen         12-19-17

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Lifestyle

Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop

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The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  • Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  • Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
  • Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Discount Tire

 

@LeNoraMillen        01-19-18

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Business

Amazon Reveals ‘20 Cities’ That Could Be The Home Of Its Next Headquarters

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Amazon has revealed 20 cities that could be the next home of its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

The candidates, selected out of 238 applicants, will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said Thursday. Amazon will make a final decision on the site of its next headquarters this year.

The list of candidates includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

Amazon said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

Amazon has promised a $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs to the city that wins its selection process.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, head of public policy for Amazon. “Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Here are all the potential candidates:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington DC

 

Source: Business Insider

@LeNoraMillen     01-18-18

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Lifestyle

Why Some African Americans are Moving to Africa

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Accra, Ghana – They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.

A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.

Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.

She says she moved because, despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfill her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.

She told Al Jazeera her story:

On life as a second-class citizen in the US…

“I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn’t black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who  have gone to predominantly white universities.”

“I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time.”  MUHAMMIDA EL-MUHAJIR

On her first trip to Africa…

“The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and traveled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.

“I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don’t think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”

“No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”  MUHAMMIDA EL-MUHAJIR

Market in Agbogbloshie, a district in Accra, Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images

On leaving New York for Accra…

“Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you’re always an outsider.

“You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, you’re a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.

“In America, you’re always trying to prove yourself; I don’t need to prove myself to anyone else’s standards here. I’m a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win.”

“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.” 

MUHAMMIDA EL-MUHAJIR

On moving to Ghana…

“There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York – like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time.”

On Ghanaian reactions…

“When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they’re usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it’s great to finally cash in on that because it doesn’t mean anything in America.

“There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there’s a class system.”

Modern architecture in Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images

“In my documentary, I chose five people that I’ve met since I’ve been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It’s something that prepares you mentally to realize you aren’t a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to living in Africa.

On the ‘Blaxit’ documentary…

“I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around the independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.

“Unbeknown to us, we’re living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.

“I don’t want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It’s just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person – you won’t have to suffer with those things here.

“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

“I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don’t know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there’s nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places.”

On the prospect of more African-Americans moving…

“I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else.”

Source: Al Jazeera

@LeNoraMillen      01-18-18

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